I have always found it difficult to strike a balance with being able to put enough research into my writing as opposed to just free writing creatively. There is a constant fear that I may end up comparing my writing to other work. Research, in this case, can be the death of creativity. Developing a healthier relationship with research and using it to boost my creativity is something I would like to work on.
Fantasy has always been an easier genre for me to write in because little research is needed. Of course, there are some principles which must be employed for a text to be considered fantasy, but in contrast to other genres such as crime, there is not a lot of realism. For Imogen’s Dark Secret, I knew more research was needed to create a more immersive experience for the reader.
Agatha Christie’s Murder On The Orient Express gave me the foundations needed for my crime novel. Classical crime novels have a strong sense of character building and suspense which I wanted to simulate through Imogen’s Dark Secret, although in a different setting and context. Other novels such as Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov influenced the obsessive qualities of Alessandro and showed me how explicit these types of work can be. Although I didn’t want to use the controversial detail and characters of Lolita, it was a great source of inspiration into the minds of perverted individuals.
To achieve the tone I wanted for my novel, I decided to experiment using a mixture of film and books. I watched several episodes of The Bill to understand the abuse I wanted to feature in my own writing. In particular, I found Series 24 episodes 82 and 83 ‘Forgotten Child’ helpful in gaining knowledge about how the police deal with abusive crimes. Other dramas like Waterloo Road allowed me to gauge the depth of abusive relationships. Season three and eight touched on particular types of abuse such as domestic violence, rape and forced sex work.
To expand the context of abuse in my novel I used the NSPCC website to understand the different types and how it should be handled. As my protagonist is underage at the time she is abused, I would need to be cautious in providing a realistic image of physical and mental abuse.
In hindsight, I would like to improve my work by researching further into the psychological consequences that abuse has on someone and how trauma can take many forms. At the time of writing, however, I was unsure of the direction I wanted the story to go in. I would also reconsider the final scene of Imogen confronting Alessandro and whether it is realistic for a victim to return to her abuser. Alessandro does have a certain magnetism to him which allows him to control Imogen, but I’m not sure Imogen wants revenge or justice for herself and the other victims.